On Sunday afternoon, Princess Charlotte was christened in a private service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham Estate in the presence of her parents, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Also in attendance at the christening was Charlotte’s older brother, Prince George. Sunday’s service was the first time that all four members of the Cambridge family had been seen together since the arrival of Princess Charlotte back in May.
Earlier on Sunday Kensington Palace confirmed that The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla as well as The Duchess of Cambridge’s immediate family, Carole and Michael Middleton and her siblings James and Pippa would be present at the christening.
After a wet start to Sunday morning, William and Kate did walk from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church with Prince George and Princess Charlotte and for the first time the royal couple were captured together with their two young children. The Duchess of Cambridge pushed Princess Charlotte in The Silver Cross Pram, a pram used for a whole generation of royals including The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William.
Also present in the small gathering at St Mary Magdalene was Charlotte’s five godparents and their spouses who were also announced prior to the Sunday afternoon service. Miss Sophie Carter, Mr James Meade, Mr Adam Middleton, Mr Thomas van Straubenzee and The Hon. Laura Fellowes have all taken up the great honour of becoming godparents to the fourth-in-line to the throne.
Princess Charlotte was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who in turn was supported by Reverend Canon Johnathan Riviere, Rector of the Sandringham group of parishes. As is traditional with royal christenings, Princess Charlotte wore a replica of the Royal Christening Robe which was created by Angela Kelly and first used by Viscount Severn at his christening in 2008 and also used by Prince George in October 2013.
The original Royal Christening Robe was commissioned in 1841 by Queen Victoria for the christening of her eldest daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal. Since its first use over 170 years ago, the gown has been used countless times including for the christening of The Queen in 1926, Prince Charles in 1948 and Prince William in 1984. In order to preserve the original gown, The Queen asked for a replica to be made.
Another royal tradition that was apparent in Sunday’s service was the use of the Lily Font and water from the River Jordan. The Lily Font was also commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1840 after the birth of her first child, Princess Victoria, and like the Royal Christening Robe, the font was first used at Princess Victoria’s christening in 1841 and has been used at a whole host of royal christenings since. The waters of the River Jordan have often been used to make the sign of the cross on the heads of royal infants as Christians believe it is the site where Jesus Christ was baptised.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose two hymns for the service, Praise to the Lord, The Almighty and Come Down, O Love Divine whilst the lesson was from Matthew 18 verses 1-5 and was read by Mr James Meade. The anthems were I Will Sing With The Spirit and God Be In My Head both by John Rutter. Furthermore the processional and recessional organ music was R. Vaughan Williams Prelude on Rhosymedre and G. F. Handel’s Overture respectively.
The short service finished around 5pm and Her Majesty The Queen was the first to leave the church followed by the Cambridge family and their guests.
Following the service at St Mary Magdalene, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and guests made their way back to Sandringham House where they will give a tea. Guests will be served a slice of christening cake, which is a tier taken from William and Kate’s wedding cake. The cake, designed by Fiona Cairns, was made from 17 individual fruit cakes and had eight tiers and was decorated with cream and white icing using the Joseph Lambeth technique.
The official christening photographs will be taken by Mario Testino, the same photographer who took the first photographs of William and Kate following their engagement in 2010. It is expected that the first of those photographs will be released shortly after it has been captured.
Royal Central will have all the latest as and when the official christening photographs are released.
photo credit: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.